Jose Mourinho has sought to play down suggestions that his relationship with Diego Costa is rapidly deteriorating after the fiery striker courted controversy during Chelsea's goalless draw at Tottenham.
Having been left on the bench for the trip to White Hart Lane following a half-time dispute with his manager during the 4-0 Champions League victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv, the Spanish international was evidently frustrated by the omission and even appeared to toss his bib in Mourinho's direction towards the end of the second half.
That apparent act of petulance from a player who has struggled badly to replicate the prolific goalscoring form that helped fire Chelsea to the Premier League title last term has unsurprisingly drawn strong criticism from a number of pundits and supporters. Harry Redknapp declared there would have been "murders in the dressing room" had one of his players refused to warm up and former Manchester United stalwart Paul Scholes insisted that Costa could "cause a row in an empty house".
Despite that criticism, Mourinho insists that the situation remains positive and believes that the former Atletico Madrid frontman, who notched the winner against Norwich at Stamford Bridge last weekend, should perhaps count himself lucky to have remained in the starting line-up for as long as he did given the club's shocking start to the 2015/16 campaign.
"If he wants to hurt me, it's not with a bib. I have a good relationship with him, no problems," he told Sky Sports. "I think Diego is very privileged because he was the last one to be [put] on the bench.
"Everybody was on the bench. The captain [John Terry] was on the bench. [Branislav] Ivanovic was on the bench. [Gary] Cahill – the vice-captain of England – was on the bench. [Cesc] Fabregas was on the bench. Pedro was on the bench. [Eden] Hazard – player of the season – was on the bench. Oscar was on the bench. Everybody. So Diego is privileged I kept him in the team for all these matches and today we thought the best strategy to play was this one. We are happy with the decision."
Expanding further on Costa's current state of mind, he added: "I think physically he is fine, he is working well every day, his mood is positive. I was not expecting to have a player jumping and singing because he was not playing. A top player going on the bench they are not happy so for me his behaviour was normal. He was ready to play when he went to the warm-up."
Following the stalemate against Tottenham, Chelsea now lie 14th in the top-flight ahead of the upcoming visit of fellow strugglers Bournemouth on 5 December. They trail leaders Manchester City by 14 points.